Unity College Helps Gambian Student Denied Visa

October 18, 2018

In late August Inside Higher Ed published an article about a student from Gambia who was twice denied a visa to come to the United States despite having secured financial support for her education, including a substantial scholarship to a college in New York State.

Unity College, a Maine-based institution offering environmentally focused degrees, has since stepped forward to offer a free online education to that student, Penda Jallow, while she continues to seek approval for a visa.

Unity’s president and the college’s director of online learning will travel to Gambia in November to orient Jallow to Unity’s online program. The college will give her a laptop. Ashleigh DeLuca, who met Jallow a decade ago when she taught English in Gambia and who has raised money to try to bring Jallow to the U.S., plans to use donated funds to purchase a solar panel and Wi-Fi hot spot for Jallow’s house.

“I basically said she can take our online courses until she gets a visa or graduates from us, whichever comes first,” said Unity’s president, Melik Peter Khoury, who grew up in Gambia. “I wanted her in no way to feel obligated to graduate from Unity College. That would be fantastic, but while she’s trying to figure out the world of immigration and all the barriers that she has to get an American degree I wanted her to have tangible progress -- so that she is not waiting to see what happens.”

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